Rhode Island Taking Steps to Address Early Literacy Challenges

As of 2017, less than half of Rhode Island third graders were proficient in reading, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Race for Results
report, released last October showed even more literacy challenges for Latino/a students in the state.  According to the Race for Results’ “Opportunity Index,” which includes reading proficiency, Rhode Island’s Latino/a children are doing the worst in the nation.

In the face of these statistics, two GCRI funders, the van Beuren Charitable Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island, have stepped forward to support and lead the work toward grade level reading proficiency.

The national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading recognized Newport, RI as one of 29 “Pacesetter” communities in the country, highlighting the city’s  progress on key indicators of early school success.

Newport’s work on early literacy is highlighted by cross-sector collaboration, including the city, school districts, nonprofit agencies, private organizations and state agencies, including an extensive partnership with the Rhode Island Department of Health.  The work has been supported by GCRI member van Beuren Charitable Foundation, among other funding streams.

The Newport program provides resources beginning at birth, with letters to new parents with suggestions on how to build early language development by reading, talking, singing and playing; bags containing books and resource guides with information on programs to support early development and literacy; and links to parent support and educational programs, and home visiting programs.

Rhode Island Reads, a statewide collaboration led by United Way of Rhode Island and Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, teamed up with the Rhode Island Association for the Education of Young Children to build awareness of the need for high-quality early learning opportunities for young children by organizing reading events in early learning programs across the state. Thirty-six guest readers participated —  26 state legislators and 10 community leaders, including the Director of the Department of Human Services, the Director of the Department of Labor and Training, and members of United Way of Rhode Island’s Women United Leadership Group.  Photos

Rhode Island Reads has also released its 2018 Advocacy Agenda, focusing on legislation and funding in the areas of school readiness, summer learning, chronic absence and learning to read.

 

Collette, Rhode Island Foundation Help Launch Books Are Wings Literacy Program in Central Falls

Collette, Rhode Island Foundation Support Launch of Books Are Wings’ Literacy Efforts in Central Falls

Thanks to funding from two GCRI members, Collette and Rhode Island Foundation, Books Are Wings will partner with the City of Central Falls to provide literacy training for the City’s Parks & Recreation summer camp counselors, three book parties throughout the summer, establish six Little Free Libraries in strategic locations throughout Central Falls and distribute over 5,000 free children’s books to Central Falls students throughout the year.

The Little Free Libraries are available to both children and their families anytime, and invite participants to keep books for their personal use. Grant funds will also support the purchase of bilingual books to be included in the book selection.

Books Are Wings will visit Central Falls elementary schools multiple times throughout the school year to distribute free books. By the end of the school year every child will receive up to 6 free books to keep.

According to the 2017 PARCC, only 15% of third graders in Central Falls are meeting grade-level expectations in reading. This is a 2% gain from the previous two years. “The summer months are critical academic times for children. Children’s access to and ownership of books is crucial to maintain the reading skills they acquired during the school year,” states Jocelynn White, Executive Director of Books Are Wings. “We are thrilled to partner with the City of Central Falls to address this need and get more books in the hands of children.”

“The city is excited to partner with Books Are Wings,” says Rob Sayre-McCord, Director of Parks & Recreation and Community Services. “Together, the city and Books Are Wings firmly believe that this initiative will highlight the life-long importance of reading for youth in our community and will be a step towards offsetting the literacy issues our community encounters.”

GCRI Members Invited to Visit Hasbro Summer Learning Initiative Sites

GCRI members United Way and Hasbro invite GCRI members to visit to one of 14 summer learning programs of the 2018 Hasbro Summer Learning Initiative (HSLI).   Each program offers youth a fun six-week, service learning-oriented, experiential curriculum that is designed and delivered by a collaboration of school-day and community-based educators. No two programs are the same, but all of them work towards a common goal: to narrow the achievement gap—a phenomenon that research shows is significantly attributed to unequal access to summer learning.

More than 1,100 Rhode Island youth will benefit from the initiative this summer,  and site visits offer guests the opportunity to witness the progress being made to combat summer learning loss. Visits last one hour.

The following visits are available:

Central Falls — August 9, 2:00-3:00pm, Calcutt Middle School

Cumberland — July 31, 9:00-10:00am, Joseph L. McCourt Middle School

Newport — July 24, 9:00-10:00am, Boys & Girls Club of Newport

North Kingstown — August 1, 11:00am-noon, McGinn Park

North Providence — July 12, 11:00-noon, Greystone School

Pawtucket — July 12, 9:00-10:00am, Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket

Providence — July 30, 11:00am-noon, Blackstone Valley Academy at Moses Brown School

Providence — August 15, 11:00am-noon, YWCA Rhode Island

West Warwick — August 8, 1:00-2:00pm, Deering Middle School

Westerly — August 7, 9:00-10:00am, Tower Street School Community Center

Woonsocket — July 31, 2:00-3:00pm, C3 Center

Woonsocket — August 8, 9:00-10:00am, Kevin K. Coleman Elementary School

If you are interested in participating in one of the site visits or would like more information, please email hilary.ho@uwri.org or joseph.morra@uwri.org.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of RI, LISC, Rhode Island Foundation Release 2017 Community Reports

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island has released it 2017 Community Report, focused on its wide range of involvement in child health and wellbeing, healthcare access and equity, the opioid crisis, and volunteerism and philanthropy.

Full report

LISC RI, a GCRI member, is part of national LISC, which  invested $1.2 billion nationwide in 2017, including $27 million in Rhode Island.  One of the featured stories in the report is the work of the Health Empowerment Zone in Pawtucket/Central Falls, which is adminstered by LISC RI.

Full report

The Rhode Island Foundation’s annual report details information on the $43 million in grants to more than 1,700 the Foundation awarded in 2017, including grants in strategic areas such as economic security, educational success, and healthy lives.

Full report

RI Council for the Humanities Hosts NEA, NEH Leaders for Cultural Conversation; Announces Grants

GCRI Member RI Council for the Humanities hosted A Cultural Conversation with Jane Chu of the National Endowment for the Arts and Karen Kenton of the National Endowment for the the Humanities, as well as all of Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation.  Over 300 community members attended the session, which took place at Trinity Repertory Theater.

RICH also announced a total of $136,429 in new grants to 14 humanities initiatives across the state.  The announcement ceremony, attended by over 50 representatives from civic and cultural organizations, recognized Rhode Island’s strong humanities community and the role the humanities play in civic and community engagement.

Grantees included New Urban Arts, Manton Avenue Project, newportFILM, RISD Museum, South County History Center, Rhode Island Latino Arts, Little Compton Historical Society, Providence Preservation Society and Stages of Freedom for the Public Project category.  In the Documentary film category, grants were awarded to Center for Independent Documentary, Rhode Island PBS and the Rhode Island Historical Society, while Meeting Street and Pushed Learning and Media/New Urban Arts received grants in the K-12 Civic Education category.

More information

CVS Health and United Way Launch Opioid Referral Program, Support Pharmacy Workforce Initiative at Genesis Center

United Way, CVS Foundation Launch 2-1-1 Partnership to Address Opioid Addiction

As Rhode Island struggles with the highest rate of substance abuse-related deaths in New England, those caught in the cycle of addiction, as well as their family and friends, have a new resource to access the help they need.

United Way of Rhode Island (UWRI) and the CVS Health Foundation have announced a new partnership through 2-1-1 focused on addressing the opioid use epidemic that has become a public health crisis in the Ocean State. Through the free and confidential 2-1-1 help line that’s available 24/7, 365 days a year, the effort aims to raise awareness and bring greater accessibility to treatment resources to Rhode Islanders.

Utilizing a multi-pronged approach, the partnership incorporates Anchor Recovery, a comprehensive substance abuse treatment organization. With Anchor, 2-1-1 will have access to a dedicated phone line so that 2-1-1 call specialists may provide a warm transfer directly to a peer counselor, who can provide immediate assistance. The partnership also integrates the availability of an addiction and substance use subject matter expert, and specialized training for 2-1-1 staff on addiction issues and available services.

UWRI and the CVS Health Foundation have added a list of addiction resources to the 2-1-1 website (www.211ri.org), where individuals who may be apprehensive to call 2-1-1 by phone can review the resources or chat online with trained specialists.

Additionally, the partnership will provide direct outreach to communities in the state most affected by substance abuse using the 2-1-1 Outreach RV. Through confidential screenings aboard the 38-foot Outreach RV, 2-1-1 will provide direct referrals to local substance abuse agencies, as well as immediate drug and alcohol counseling available from on-site partners, and HIV rapid testing.

To help raise awareness of the partnership and the role of 2-1-1 in combating addiction issues, UWRI and CVS Health will employ a marketing campaign, including digital, radio and transit advertisements.

CVS Health is committed to addressing and preventing the nation’s opioid epidemic. In March, the company announced it is adding 14 medication disposal units inside CVS Pharmacy locations across the state to make it easier to dispose of unused medications. This work builds on ongoing company initiatives, including the Pharmacists Teach program, which brings CVS Pharmacists to local schools to talk to teens and parents about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. More than 300,000 teens nationally including more than 3,600 in Rhode Island have already participated in the program. CVS Health has also worked to expand access to the opioid overdose-reversal drug naloxone in 46 states, including Rhode Island.

Genesis Center Pharmacy Tech Program Receives Support from CVS Health and United Way of Rhode Island

The Genesis Center Pharmacy Technician program, which was born out of a partnership between Genesis Center, Building Futures, CVS Heath and United Way of Rhode Island, gives students an opportunity to train for a career that’s on track to add 47,600 new jobs by 2026.

Tyla Pimentel, Genesis Center’s Adult Services Director, explains, “It became increasingly difficult to earn a living-wage working in low-skilled jobs, so we adapted to the community’s changing needs” with this popular new program. In addition to the faster than average job growth, the median income for those entering the pharmacy tech field is $15.26 an hour.

The program, now in its second cohort, has started receiving more interest from the community. “Many times, people come in for another class but end up interested in the pharmacy tech program,” says Liz Hanke, Genesis Center’s Workforce Coordinator. Part of this new program’s appeal is that graduates do their internships with CVS Health — which often leads to job offers.

Internships are far from the end of their collaboration; CVS Health’s in-house training modules are foundational to the program’s curriculum. “Our students start their careers at an advantage,” explains Tyla. “They complete most of CVS’s training program before they even graduate.”Internships are far from the end of their collaboration; CVS Health’s in-house training modules are foundational to the program’s curriculum. “Our students start their careers at an advantage,” explains Tyla. “They complete most of CVS’s training program before they even graduate.”

In addition, Genesis helps students develop soft skills, such as writing resumes and interviewing, while also preparing them for the reality of entering the workforce. “It’s important we help manage their expectations,” says Liz. “We explain to them that no one starts at the top, but if they put in the time, work hard, and are dependable they can achieve success — but that it’s ultimately up to them.”

Like Genesis Center, United Way of Rhode Island understands helping others often relies on an agency’s willingness to adapt. This willingness is what helps nonprofits meet the changing needs of a community — like the need for quality adult education.

United Way invests in adult education by supporting effective programs like Genesis Center’s Pharmacy Technician Program. “United Way allows us to help more people benefit from this program,” Tyla explains. “Community members who would otherwise never have an opportunity like this.”
United Way’s continued investment in adult education is important to our goal of changing the lives of 250,000 Rhode Islanders by the year 2020. Working closely with partners, such as Genesis Center, we will not only reach this goal but surpass it — helping many more Rhode Islanders in the process.

February and March Program Opportunities

GCRI Program Opportunities

Meet the Funders — February 15, 5:30-8:00pm, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of RI

Federal and State Budget Impact on RI Communities — March 29, 9:00-11:00am, Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island

Catalyst Group Meetings

CyberGrants Users Group webinar on reporting — February 15, 2:00pm

Employee Engagement Conference Calls — February 27, 9am and March 27, 9am

Early Literacy and RI Reads — February 26, 3:00-4:30pm, United Way

Financial Empowerment — March 6, 9:00-10:30am, United Way

Partner Webinars

Hurricane Harvey Recovery Funder Briefing Webinar
Monday, February 12, 3:00-4:00pm
In addition to a recovery update, this briefing will focus on research that is helping to identify community needs. Funders will have an opportunity to share their work and to ask questions of each other at the close of the briefing. Speakers include Traci Brasher, TEM, Recovery Division Director FEMA Region 6;  and Shao-Chee Sim, Ph.D., Vice President for Applied Research at Episcopal Health Foundation.  Sponsored by The Simmons Foundation and Center for Disaster Philanthropy.

Going Public:  Overcoming the Foundation Transparency Challenge – Webinar
Thursday, February 22, 2:00-3:00pm
Join United Philanthropy Forum and Foundation Center for the “Going Public: Overcoming the Foundation Transparency Challenge” webinar. This program will begin with a compelling case for greater transparency; provide an overview of the powerful and free tools designed to help you improve the transparency of your foundation’s online presence; demonstrate a free tool for assessing your foundation’s online transparency practices (how will yours stack up?); and highlight examples from foundation peers that have been active in creating greater openness at their foundations.  Calls for greater transparency and accountability in the philanthropic sector are nothing new, but today as people access greater quantities of information online, public expectation is rapidly growing about what information is made available.   And today’s reality is that transparency and openness are not only trending, but revolutionizing the world around us. From user experience designed websites to Twitter to LinkedIn to the explosion of the blogosphere, shared networks and open data are transforming the way we shop, learn, and connect with each other.  There is also the deeper conversation about the nature of openness in our philanthropic relationships versus just being transparent about our work.  Openness referring to more of a relationship between philanthropy and their grantee partners and the communities they serve.   While many of us generally agree that transparency is a virtue, figuring out how to assess and improve existing foundation transparency practices can be a challenge. Attend this webinar to learn about free tools that are designed to help philanthropy work more openly, efficiently, and effectively.

Other Events in the Philanthropy Sector

Everything I Needed to Know..But Nobody Told Me:  A Retreat for New Foundation Staff — 2/25-27, Ardmore, OK.  Sponsored by Philanthropy Southwest

Grantmakers Concerned for Immigrants and Refugees National Convening — 2/27-3/1, Los Angeles

Funders Together to End Homelessness Funders Forum — 2/28, Los Angeles

Funding Forward (LGBT Funders) — 3/14-3/16, New Orleans

AACP: The Conference (corporate philanthropy) — 3/18-3/21, Portland, OR

CFUnited (community foundations) — 3/18-3/21, Las Vegas

PEAK Grantmaking Annual Conference (grants management) — 3/19-3/21, Orlando

Resource Generation’s Transforming Philanthropy (younger generation members of family foundations) — 3/22-3/25, Pomona, CA

 

Rhode Island Council for the Humanities Announces Grants, Kicks Off 2018 Reading Across Rhode Island

Rhode Island Council for the Humanities Announces Mini Grants, Kicks Off 2018 Reading Across Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (RICH) has announced its 2018 mini grant awardees for public humanities projects.  Public project recipients include Pawtucket School Department, for development and implementation of a middle school action-civics curriculum at Goff Middle School in Pawtucket;  Southside Cultural Center of Rhode Island, for an annual event in Providence celebrating Langston Hughes’ poetic works and contributions to American art and culture; and School One, for the second year of a statewide creative writing competition for Rhode Island students in grades 7-12.

Evan Villari was awarded a documentary mini grant to support the research phase of a documentary film exploring the creation of the Scituate Reservoir in the early 20th Century and its current role as Rhode Island’s largest freshwater resource, and Raymond Two Hawks Watson was awarded an individual research mini grant to support research exploring seven places of aboriginal cultural heritage located within the city limits of Providence.

In addition, RICH announced the Reading Across Rhode Island, Rhode Island’s One Book, One State community reading program kicked off its 16th year with its 2018 selection, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Reading Across Rhode Island is a program of the Rhode Island Center for the Book at the RICH, made possible through a collaboration of librarians, teachers, book group leaders and readers from across the state. The 2018 program runs from January through May with readers in Rhode Island classrooms, libraries, community centers, bookstores and book groups invited to join discussions and participate in local community events such as lectures, exhibits and dramatic interpretations centered on this year’s selection.

More information

 

van Beuren Charitable Foundation Transitions to New Strategic Framework

van Beuren Charitable Foundation Transitions to New Strategic Framework

The van Beuren Charitable Foundation recently completed a new strategic plan and has begun implementing a new strategic framework to align the van Beuren family’s philanthropic goals with community aspirations.

The Foundation’s mission continues to be to “invest in the quality of place and quality of life on Aquidneck Island and surrounding communities” but the focus has shifted from activities to outcomes in the areas of Healthy Lifestyles, Strong Starts, Community Prosperity and Excellence in the Commons.

“We hope that our new strategic framework will encourage the increased connectivity that is developing in the community, and acknowledges that community vitality is augmented by the beneficial interplay between health, education, the economy, and built and natural environments,” say Archbold D. van Beuren, Foundation Chair, and Elizabeth Lynn, Foundation Executive Director in the Foundation’s newly released annual report.

The report presents feedback from three clusters of grantees working on shared community goals, the community benefit they
strive to deliver, and the lessons learned that inform future work.

“The $5.5 million of grant funds we invested locally in 2016 inspired our planning process and reaffirmed the importance of being a community partner. Our community is hard at work taking on the challenges that will lead to children having a strong start in life, residents experiencing health throughout their lives, economic opportunity for residents and enterprises, and inspirational institutions and landscapes,” say van Beuren and Lynn.

Read the report

Advocating for School Partnership for Healthier Kids

The October 16 edition of the Providence Journal encouraged schools to become active partners in growing healthier kids.  Bobby Gondola, Director of Global Philanthropy and Social Impact at GCRI Member Hasbro, co-authored the column with Jennifer Quigley-Harris, a parent of a Providence student.  Gondola is a member of the Providence District Wellness Committee, a collaborative, community-school advisory groups that works to develop healthy school environments.  Read the column to learn more about the committee and opportunity for positive health outcomes for Rhode Island schoolchildren.